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Newcastle-under-Lyme’s Labour MP Paul Farrelly has confirmed today that he will be contesting the snap election called by the Prime Minister for 8th June.
Mr Farrelly, 55, has represented the town - where he was born and bred – since 2001 and this will be the fifth time he has fought a general election in Newcastle.
In 2015, he held on with a majority of just 650, after being heavily targeted on the Conservatives’ so-called ‘40/40 list’ of constituencies to win or hold. Tory spending in that election was estimated at around £150,000, around ten times as much as all the other parties, including Labour, combined.
In the House of Commons vote this afternoon, Mr Farrelly also challenged Theresa May over her U-turn in springing the election, out of the blue, after repeatedly dismissing any suggestion of an early poll before 2020.
‘The Prime Minister has pledged time and again not to call an early election,’ he said in the packed Chamber.
‘In her Easter message, she talked greatly of her Christian values. Can the Prime Minister explain, then, why she has such a loose and complicated relationship with telling the truth?’
Asked by the Speaker to withdraw what he called ‘un-parliamentary language’, Newcastle’s MP said that he would ‘reformulate’. ‘Why does the Prime Minister have such a complicated and loose relationship with clarifying to the country her true intentions?,’ he asked.
The Government motion passed with over 500 votes, more than the two thirds needed to go ahead with the election under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act from the previous coalition.
The 50-plus Scottish Nationalists abstained, along with several from the Labour side, while Mr Farrelly joined 13 MPs – including Northern Ireland’s SDLP – in voting against.
‘I think this election, just two years after the vote in 2015, is opportunistic and unnecessary –and two weeks ago the Prime Minister apparently thought the same,’ he said afterwards.
‘It is also divisive and poses dangers to the unity of the United Kingdom, not only with the Scots Nats wanting to break away, but with the peace process in Northern Ireland.’
‘If I’m asked on the doorstep, ‘why didn’t I vote against, then’, I will say that I certainly did. But, regardless of this, we’re going to fight the Tories as hard as we can – on the state of our local NHS, on social care, on cuts to school budgets and their divisive grammar schools policy, on low pay and exploitation, on what they they’ll do to universities and student fees.’
‘This election is not a second EU referendum, however the in/out PM wants to frame it. The UK will be leaving, but we need proper scrutiny by a strong, not poodle Parliament to make sure we get the best deal. There should be no blank cheques, as Theresa May wants.’